Most foods are best eaten fresh but many of us will still be harvesting and storing vegetables. So, if you really can’t face chopping another tomato, stuffing another courgette or peeling another onion then here’s some help.
Whilst watering and feeding your plants keep eye on their development. Unless you are entering monster veg classes at your local show it’s best to be harvesting and storing vegetables whilst they are in their prime. This usually means whilst they are still young and tender.
Water the plants the evening before and pick the veg early in the morning. Alternatively, harvest your veg on a cool evening. The key thing being not to pick during the heat of the day and to get the veg into a cool environment, such as the house, as soon as possible.
Vegetables will start to lose their vitamin levels as soon as they are picked so harvesting and storing vegetables is best done on the same day, where possible.
Less than perfect veg really needs to be eaten fresh with only perfect, blemish free specimens being stored. Different methods of storage include:
The following veg can all be blanched and frozen:
Asparagus Beans Broccoli Carrots Cauliflower Courgettes Peas Peppers Spinach Sweetcorn
Some veg can simply be dried naturally and left in a cool dark place until needed. This includes:
Potatoes Onions Garlic Shallots Squash Herbs
Other veg, for example tomatoes, will need to be thoroughly dried, in the sun, oven or a dehydrator and then stored in oil.
Preserving & Pickling
The term “preserve” covers jams, jellies, salsa, chutneys and pickles. Whole books have been devoted to the huge range of recipes available with ingredients including the following:
Peppers Chillies Tomatoes Aubergines Onions Mushrooms Leeks Carrots Beetroot Artichokes Horseradish Cucumbers/gherkins Marrows Courgettes Cabbages Cauliflower Beans Sweetcorn
Leaving in the Ground
Leave winter veg such as sprouts, cabbage and leeks in the ground until needed. The same applies to root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips but these can also be lifted and stored in boxes of sand.
Wines and beers can be made from many vegetables. Beetroot and ginger is an old family favourite of mine. Other home-grown veg that can be fermented and supped includes:
Broad beans Horseradish Carrots Chiilies Courgettes Mint Beetroot Pumpkins Sweetcorn Parsnips
Rhubarb Rosemary Bay